This is a re-post from my expat-focused blog about our time in London – TechXpat.com
It’s no secret that I’m a tech fan… or that I am basically crippled without my iPhone. In our jaunt across the pond, I’ve definitely relied on my iPhone to help me get by most days. Here are some of the apps that I’ve been using.
Before you’re all like “Oh man, you’re such an Apple fanboy. Why’s it all iOS apps…” 1) Stop. 2) I have a work phone and it happens to be an iPhone 5 – not my fault. 3) I offer Android versions (or alternatives) where I can. Now… proceed after the jump for explanations and completely unscientific ratings.
Time Out London/Time Out Travel Guide
Both these apps are pretty great for someone who’s new to London and looking for stuff to do. The former has a ton of great events from shows to gallery showings to concerts and you can sort by things that are near you, price, etc. The latter is really aimed more at tourists, but since we’ve only been living here for a couple months, those things are still sort of fun. Also available on Android.
Rating: 3.5 cups of tea/3 crumpets
This was one of the first apps that was suggested to me by a friend, so it’s still on my phone (though I don’t use it that much anymore). It’s a pretty simple guide to the tube system and has basic routing (though it doesn’t always seem to be synced with the latest Transport for London info). Also available on Android.
Rating: 2.5 Please Mind the Gaps
Apple’s native maps are pretty jenky when it comes to London. Downloading Google’s purpose-built maps app has made a work of difference. Duh, it’s available on Android.
Rating: 4.0 London Bridges Falling Down
My wife actually discovered this app. It’s incredibly handy for finding your way home at the end of a pub session. You input your home address and it will tell you where to snag the last tube home at the end of the night.
Rating: 3.14 Pints
I didn’t learn how to convert to celsius, metres, and every other thing when I was in school, so this helps me do it. Google works well also. Here’s an Android alternative.
Rating: 3 British Pounds (or $4.54)
One of the coolest things about London has been the Barclays Bikes. They’re seemingly everywhere. This app lets you know where the nearest location is, how many bikes there are, and then helps you plan your route. If your ride is under 30 mins., it’s FREE! Also available on Android.
Rating: 4.8 speeds
Talking with people back home is important (right?). WhatsApp is an intriguing little app that lets you do just that – for free. Also available on Android.
Rating: 3.5 texts per minute
Despite its racy-sounding name, this app has nothing to do with sex toys. Instead, it’s an app similar to WhatsApp that lets you call/text your friends where they ma be. They’re battling Voda a bit over apparent throttling of the app, but it’s worked well so far. Also available on Android.
Rating: 5 vibes (not phallic)
Vodafone in the UK doesn’t have visual voicemail. That sucks. HulloMail is an app you can download that gives you the visual voicemail functionality (for free). That doesn’t suck. Also available on Android.
Rating: 4.5 VMs
All the credit for this one goes to my wife for introducing me to this app. It’s the most-comprehensive travel app I’ve seen that covers directions (walking, driving, transit), estimated taxi fares, calories burned from walking, and the amount of time it’d take to catapult (yes, catapult) to your destination. Not available on Android… womps.
Rating: 5 catapults